This is the question I was confronted with just recently. My lovely wife is an avid reader, everywhere she goes she totes a book along with her. She had a birthday coming up early February, after scratching my head furiously, as I do every year at this time, the idea suddenly came to me – an eReader, perfect!!
Now, which one? Pretty much the only requirement I had in mind was that it must include touchscreen capabilities, didn’t want the ‘cheese and kisses’ inconvenienced by those bothersome buttons. The new Kindle Touch was not yet available here (in Oz) so that was the initial conundrum; to wait until they were available and miss my wife’s birthday or ignore that option and look for an alternative. Even though the Kindle Touch received more positive reviews than any other reader I finally decided not to wait, for two main reasons: first and foremost because Amazon products appear to be more attuned to the US market and do not necessarily offer equal benefits for overseas customers – especially where the Amazon store is concerned.
Second is the proprietary nature of Amazon devices and subsequent lock-in. Of course, that can be overcome per medium of utilizing something like Calibre, a cross platform 3rd party freeware which will convert between formats and sync with a variety of devices. However, all things considered, I figured there were probably better options for me.
At this stage I knew very little about eReaders and exactly what contenders might be available. With the Kindle (non-touch) reader out of the equation, early research led pretty quickly to the discovery that I had 3 basic choices, the Kobo Touch, Nook Simple Touch and Sony Touch. Price differences were negligible and not a major consideration anyway, so on to the reviews.
I must have read through literally dozens of individual and comparison-based reviews, and guess what – none of that helped one iota! Not one of the devices received overwhelmingly positive reviews, each being accompanied by a litany of negatives. Are they all that bad? Are the reviewers just hard to please? I must admit I almost gave up on the idea altogether.
We have a nationwide chain of stores here called Office Works who specialize in computers, technology and gadgets, as well as the obvious office supplies. Fortunately, we have a local store right here in Bundaberg, I spend a lot of time in Office Works. 🙂 As it happened I needed to buy a new wireless modem/router for one of my clients so a visit to Office Works was on the agenda. While there I thought to have a look at what eReaders they might stock. It turned out they sell only one brand, the Kobo Touch. It was priced at $129.00au – pretty reasonable! Office Works has a stellar reputation for honoring warrantees, and for after sales service in general – major considerations! So, in the end, they were the factors that influenced my decision and ‘she who must be obeyed’ received a lovely lilac Kobo Touch reader from yours truly for her birthday.
Kobo supports ePub, the most common eReader format. Setup is pretty straight forward, connect the device to the PC and follow on-screen prompts. Now, I couldn’t present my lovely wife with an eReader that hadn’t been christened, so off to the online book store via PC to purchase a suitable ebook – thus my education was further advanced. I selected and paid for the book, no problem. Finally got to the download link but to my surprise the download was a mere 1.4KB and the file extension completely unknown to me, and apparently also to my computer – what gives?
Back online, Google is my friend, I learn I need to install further software in order to properly download ebooks in this way, something called Adobe Digital Editions. I breath a sigh of relief when I discover Adobe Digital Editions is actually free, and pretty straightforward to work with. Downloaded and installed the additional software, initiated the ebook download again, this time with Adobe Digital Editions running. Sure enough, as soon as the tiny ‘unknown’ file finished downloading, a new popup appeared in Adobe Digital Editions informing me that the ebook was now being downloaded. Just 20 seconds later and the book was duly listed, from there it was just a matter of drag ‘n drop to the device.
So am I happy with my purchase and, more importantly, is the bride happy with her new Kobo Touch. Absolutely!! A great little reader; wi-fi supported, battery life is exceptional, touchscreen response is just right – not too heavy, not too light. Sits comfortably in the hand, very clear text, an abundance of features, very easy to configure and work with, all good!
So why all the negatives? Beats me, I guess a lot of reviewers feel they need to justify their existence. I realize this somewhat lengthy dissertation has probably not helped in anyone’s decision making process overall but at least I can confirm that the reasonably priced Kobo Touch is a very good reader and definitely a worthwhile investment.
Please feel free to share your eReader experiences; any recommendations, pitfalls, etc. The comments section is for you guys and gals so help share the knowledge.